The Legend of Zelda, as a franchise, has established two distinct 'pillars' - 2D and 3D. From The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time onwards the trend - with some occasional exceptions - is for new games on portable devices to adopts the top-down '2D' style, and for sweeping '3D' adventures to come to home consoles. Of course with the evolution of technology we saw two N64 remakes on 3DS, and the DS/3DS have also had titles that try different approaches to the top-down entries.
Plenty of franchise fans likely love both, but when pushed we suspect most prefer one style over the other. While we don't yet know if a real 'successor' portable will follow the 3DS, the hybrid nature of the Switch poses an interesting question - could it be host to both styles? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is shaping up to be an ambitious new take on the open-world template (and began solely as a Wii U project, remember) but will we see a similar evolution for the 2D branch of the franchise, beyond the strides taken in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds?
For those hoping the answer is a resolute 'yes', series producer Eiji Aonuma has shared some reassuring words in an interview with Game Informer as part of the magazine's extended coverage.
Quizzed on whether the two distinct 'teams' would be brought together, Aonuma-san was clear in saying that this isn't in his plans.
The dev pace is not really dependent on how many people are on a team, so combining them would not necessarily expedite the development pace. The 3DS team and the Wii U team have different approaches to game development, so I don't necessarily want to combine them and have them think together, but rather have each think about what they can bring to Nintendo Switch from their own perspective.
The handheld development team will not be phased out because of Nintendo Switch. Switch will allow the users to bring their home console on the go, but this doesn't mean handheld game development like Nintendo 3DS will be discontinued.
Aonuma-san said there is 'definitely a possibility' of the handheld team working on a 2D title for the Switch, before explaining that he's challenging that group to come up with an 'evolved 2D style'.
There are definitely good things about the 2D world and the playstyles of the 2D world. There are a lot of fans who enjoy that style. This Nintendo Switch style, which is the evolved style of gameplay is not necessarily… I want you to think of it more as an evolved style of 2D style. For the 3DS team, I am trying to make them think in a more evolved 2D-style approach.
A Link Between Worlds is certainly a favourite among some in our team, with its sheer polish and quality reinforced with the neat design twist that gave some extra freedom in tackling dungeons. We were less enamoured with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, but that likewise tried some new things to expand on the Four Swords formula.
It's certainly the hope, then, that the Switch (or a future dedicated portable, if that happens) can host another full 2D-style adventure. We'd certainly be interested to see how Eiji Aonuma's team would evolve the concept.
Are you hoping to see another main-line 2D Legend of Zelda game in the next few years?